The Australian government, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, has funded and implemented the UN Women’s Markets for Change (M4C) project, which aims to provide humanitarian resources to market vendors in Pacific Islands, including those impacted by climate change
The Australian government, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, has funded and implemented the UN Women’s Markets for Change (M4C) project, which aims to provide humanitarian resources to market vendors in Pacific Islands, including those impacted by climate change.
The project is a six year initiative, started in 2014, that aims to make marketplaces in Fiji, Soloman Islands and Vanuatu safe, inclusive and non-discriminatory environments in which to promote women’s empowerment.
Implementation of the Partners Improving Markets (PIM) Pilot Project in 2009-2012 showed that improvements in marketplace governance and physical infrastructure can significantly contribute to the economic and social empowerment of women market vendors.
Pacific Island vendors are predominantly women, whose sole source of income is often from working in the market.
Their livelihoods are then severely impacted when climate disasters destroy their produce and place of work.
For example, Tropical Cyclone Winston, which hit in February, 2016, has made conditions worse for market vendors in Fiji by destroying the Rakiraki Market and its accommodation centre for rural women.
UN Women’s M4C project is now helping to reconstruct the market, with safety, functionality and climate-resilient elements an integral part of the rebuild.
Features include Category-5 cyclone resilient infrastructure, flood resistant drainage, a rain water harvesting system, and a gender-responsive design.
UN Women has also organised leadership and financial literacy workshops, forums and training to facilitate greater inclusion in decision-making for women in the market.
One local woman, Varanisese Maisamoa, who attended the UN Women’s workshops, formed the Rakiraki Market Vendors Association in 2016.
Since the cyclone, the Association and UN Women have worked together on the market’s first `Action Plan to Build Resilience to Climate Change and Disasters’, in order to empower market vendors to be climate resilient and financially stable.
They are training female vendors to make handicrafts and gain skills in other small businesses, like money lending and catering, in order to diversify their sources of income.
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